This You Gotta See: Tom Brady goes for Super Bowl ‘W’ No. 7 — and a chance at the L-word

If Brady wins it all at 43 — and lifts a completely un-hated team to glory — it’ll soften all the edges around him and make him beloved.

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NFC Championship - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Green Bay Packers

Yeah, yeah, we get it, Brady — you’re No. 1.

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

I know it. You know it. Even your cousin Earl knows it, and he’s been holed up in that creepy cabin in the woods of his since long before the pandemic arrived:

Tom Brady is the GOAT.

For those of you less hip, hot and now than me, that stands for Grandest of Ancient Throwers. Or something like that.

Whatever “GOAT” means, people call Brady that so often that it must be accurate. His standing among football’s elite quarterbacks of all time really isn’t up for debate anymore. His legacy of winning speaks for itself, and then some. Football has had many faster, stronger, more-chiseled athletes than Brady — and that’s just counting punters and kickers — but it has never had another player so devastatingly good.

But here’s what Brady will be playing for Sunday when he leads the Buccaneers onto the Super Bowl stage against the defending-champion Chiefs. The obvious: a record seventh ring in a record 10th appearance in the big game. But more important than that, big picture: Brady is playing to be loved.

It’s one thing to grudgingly give best-ever props to the face of the evil empire that was the Patriots dynasty. It’s another thing to look at him and smile broadly and warmly. If Brady wins it all at 43 — and lifts a completely un-hated team in the process — it’ll soften all the edges around the man and make him beloved.

We’re talking about a Michael Jordan-sized legacy. Ruth, Ali, Jordan … Brady?

Here’s what’s happening:

MON 1

Women’s basketball: NC State at Louisville (6 p.m., ESPN2)

Is No. 2 NC State, which has made it past the Sweet 16 only once in school history (1998), the real championship deal? Then-No. 1 South Carolina found out about the Wolfpack in December. Your turn, No. 1 Louisville.

Knicks at Bulls (7 p.m., NBCSCH)

Perhaps the Bulls should employ a different strategy than power-napping at the defensive end until they’re down about 20, then mounting a comeback and hoping it all works out for the best.

Indiana v Illinois

Dosunmu torched the Hoosiers for 30 in December.

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

TUE 2

Illinois at Indiana (6 p.m., ESPN2)

The Illini have lost seven straight at Assembly Hall, a rather ignominious streak considering the Hoosiers haven’t exactly been killing it in recent years. Got another 30-spot in you, Ayo Dosunmu?

Clippers at Nets (6:30 p.m., TNT)

Can these teams just give us their words that Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving will all be playing? Because tuning in and seeing stars in sweatpants is getting old.

WED 3

Super Bowl Greatest Commercials (7 p.m., Ch. 2)

Boomer Esiason and Daniela Ruah host this interactive countdown special in which viewers will be able to vote live for the best Super Bowl commercial of the last 20 years. And what says “best” quite like Esiason, whose career record as a starting quarterback was 80-93?

THU 4

Ohio State at Iowa (6 p.m., ESPN)

It’s basically an elimination game for the talented Buckeyes in regard to the Big Ten regular-season title. Just once, we’d like to be able to write the previous sentence about OSU’s football team.

Hurricanes at Blackhawks (7 p.m., NBCSCH)

Carolina has been dominant in the early going against elite competition like the Lightning and Stars. Enter the Hawks, who are so not elite, they don’t even bother trying to be sneaky about it.

Nuggets at Lakers (9 p.m., TNT)

Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets are good again, but they’re falling behind the Lakers and Clippers — and Jazz — in the West pecking order. Who was the architect of this squad, anyway?

FRI 5

Bulls at Magic (6 p.m., NBCSCH)

Just how bad were the Bulls over the last two seasons? Bad enough to win a combined 31 fewer games than the “who plays for them again?” Magic. Trailing this ragtag roster in the East standings again would be ridiculous.

SAT 6

Wisconsin at Illinois (1:30 p.m., Fox-32)

Dosunmu’s ferocious finish last season in Madison led the Illini to their first victory in 16 — 16! — tries against the Badgers. Now it’s time to bury that seven-game home losing streak in the series.

North Carolina at Duke (5 p.m., ESPN)

These aren’t the Tar Heels and Blue Devils we’re used to — yeah, we know, boo-hoo — but this is still the best rivalry in college basketball. Come on, you know you enjoy it.

NFL Honors (8 p.m., Ch. 2)

Who wins Air Player of the Year? Ground Player of the Year? Subterranean Player of … wait, never mind that one.

SUN 7

Flyers at Capitals (11 a.m., Ch. 5)

Each of these teams keeps the lamp glowing at both ends of the ice. In a nutshell: wide-open hockey and goals galore. You know, in case you’re into that sort of thing.

Blackhawks at Stars (2 p.m., NBCSCH)

The Stars were utterly dominant over their first several games after crawling out of an early COVID-19 hole. The class of the expanded Central? Sure looks like it.

Super Bowl: Chiefs vs. Buccaneers (5:30 p.m., Ch. 2)

If Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid and the Chiefs are going to do this dynasty thing many are anticipating, they pretty much have to win this game. But, man alive, the Bucs are playing lights-out. Kick this sucker off already, would you?

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